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Graduate Advice

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Temping Tips for Graduates

AgencyCentral are pleased to be in partnership with The CV Centre, the UK's leading CV consultancy, in bringing you a helpful range of graduate advice articles.

After you have emerged from the long hard slog of your final exams, the next item on the agenda for most graduates is likely to be launching your career. Temporary work can be a great way to bridge the gap - both in terms of finance and experience - between those years of full-time study and your desired future position in the work place.

Be Specific About Your Needs

Temping is, by its very nature, flexible and so it can be worth using this to your advantage. Make sure you are clear in your own mind about the hours, location and type of work etc. that you would like, and of your ultimate goal. Are you looking for a stopgap purely to raise some cash or are you looking for experience in a specific field? Temping contracts can also vary enormously, from a few hours, or days, a week to several weeks or months. This flexibility means that you could request to work for a few days each week, so that you can use the rest of the week for intensive job hunting or for further studying for example.

Which agency? - There are many temping agencies to choose from, particularly dealing with secretarial and administrative positions, but there are also many that deal with specific sectors, for example, media, IT, publishing, finance, legal, bilingual, hospitality, etc. There are even agencies which deal specifically with part-time positions. It is usually possible to join more than one agency, giving you the widest possible opportunity for obtaining work. However this can also cause difficulties if several agencies are constantly calling with opportunities for work. If you find you have too many agencies to deal with, it might be a good idea to decide on a couple which you have found provides the work you need, and inform the remainder that you are unavailable for work for a while.

Initial Contact - Consult the websites of relevant agencies or call their reception desk to find out their application process. It is likely that in the first instance they will want you to see a copy of your CV, after which they may call you in for an interview and give you a series of tests to assess your skills.

Selling Yourself - Make sure your CV is up-to-date and presents your qualifications, skills and experience as effectively as possible. It is particularly important that the agencies can contact you quickly and easily by phone or email. Also, consider the experience you have carefully. As a recent graduate you may not have a great deal of experience in the workplace. However, you are likely to have a wealth of experience which you have gathered in other ways - Remember the administration of the fund-raising campaign for your degree show or field trip and the time management skills you have acquired through juggling bar work, study, travel, etc. These may not all be things you would include in your CV but they might be useful examples of experience which you could cite in your interview with the agency. If you are having trouble deciding exactly what to leave in and what to leave out of your CV it is clearly worth consulting with The CV Centre. We can make sure your CV hits the right note and presents your skills and experience in the best possible light, so that you have the best possible chance of reaching the interview stage.

Payment - If you register with several agencies you will begin to get a feel for the going rate for the type of work your are undertaking. Bear this in mind, as well as the hourly rate at which it is financially viable for you to undertake the position, when an agency asks how much you expect to earn per hour. Don't forget to make sure you find out the rate of pay for each position before you accept the contract, the payment procedure, whether weekly or monthly, and, if you have a time sheet, who it should be signed by and the deadline for submission to the agency.

Temping Etiquette

Once you have been accepted onto an agency's books you will usually find that they will begin to call you with offers of work. If you accept the work there a few things to remember to make sure things run smoothly.

Don't be late! - make sure you find out from the agency where you will be working, who to report to when you arrive, and, if necessary, the best way to travel there.
Dress Code - ensure you know the dress code - wearing a suit in the wrong environment can be almost as bad as turning up in jeans to work as a receptionist.
Time Out - find out whether you are expected to take a lunch break and for how long - don't assume you will automatically be paid for working through your lunch break. If you are a smoker check your temporary employer's protocol for when and where you can smoke.
Attitude - these positions are your chance to impress potential employers with not only your ability but also your whole working attitude. Be prepared to take on any task which is necessary, even if it does involve photocopying for hours on end. Dedication, determination, a willingness to take part and to work as part of a team, are highly sought after traits.
Reliability - one of the key qualities an agency looks for. If you agree to take on a job make sure you fulfil your obligations. However if you do find you cannot carry out any work you have agreed to take on, (and sometimes this does happen due to sickness or other unforeseen circumstances) make sure you inform the temping agency as soon as possible so they can find a replacement.

Temping can be a rewarding way to earn money, gain experience, meet a wide range of people and work in a broad variety of different environments and it could help you to determine how you would like your future career to progress. Of course, a professionally written CV is the first stage in securing the positions you want. So, if you would like to make sure that your CV doesn't let you down and leads you to the opportunities you are looking for then The CV Centre, the UK's leading CV Consultancy, can make sure your CV gets you where you want to be.

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